Were you good at math? Amy Downey was and still is. She is the CEO of Downey Advisors, a female-powered accounting firm in Glenview, IL.
Amy grew up in rural Northwest Illinois on her family’s one-hundred-year-old farm. In fact, her address was Downey Road. She attended the local grade school and enjoyed being one of only 15 students in her class. As such, there were not many opportunities for honors classes or accelerated learning. Fortunately, a very astute teacher noticed her affinity for science and math and urged her to apply to a new high school, the Illinois Science and Mathematics Academy in Aurora. Amy applied and was accepted into the charter class of ISMA.
Since this was the early 1980’s one would (and did!) assume that she was one of just a few girls accepted. What do they say about assumptions! In fact, Amy’s class was nearly 50/50 females to males. Despite the fact that she was in a curriculum typically dominated by males, and perhaps because she was recognized at a young age to be skilled in math and science, she never felt that being a female put her at a disadvantage. What she noticed throughout her education and career is that she was surrounded by smart people regardless of gender.
After graduating from Rice University in Houston with a Bachelors in Economics and a Masters of Accounting, she started with Ernst and Young to provide planning and tax services to executives. From there she became the executive director of a multigenerational family office providing tax consulting and compliance, financial planning, investment oversight, cash management, and oversight of all traditional and alternative investments.
The prompt for Amy to start her own firm came from her desire to have more control over her schedule so that she could spend more time with her children. Downey Advisors came into being in 2015. As both a CPA and CFP® Amy is uniquely situated to provide tax consulting and tax compliance services, comprehensive financial planning, and other outsourced family office services.
I asked Amy to share her thoughts on how women can better prepare themselves financially. She would like to see all people have a better understanding of their finances, from cash flow to their household savings rate. Knowing what a person can control is important to their overall financial wellbeing. That said, she also encourages women to understand the big picture. For instance, how does public policy affect taxes? Not everyone is good at math, but if we can focus on what is important to financial health it is possible to do better.
You can reach Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenifer Aronson is the Founder of Mosaic Fi.